Raise your hand if you’re weary of small plates. “I love when I’m eating something big and each bite is a little different,” says Zach Pollack, chef-owner of Silver Lake’s six-month-old Alimento. “I like the contrasting textures of leaner and fattier parts of meat or an explosion of black pepper.” When he opened his trattoria, Pollack included large platters on the menu, such as a massive pork shank and a cluster of vegetables with the Piedmontese anchovy dip bagna cauda. “As with small plates, people want to share,” says Pollack. “This lets them do that in another way. ”
L.A. restaurants are starting to balance their diminutive offerings with family-style dishes. Mozza’s Chi Spacca grills Flintstone-size cuts of meat; Roy Choi’s Pot takes the communal hot pot mainstream; and at A.O.C.—the epicenter of the smallplates boom—Suzanne Goin now presents an array of supper-style platters. “I love the look on guests’ faces when a large dish hits the table and they all lean in to share it,” says Goin, who allows diners to do just that over a whole roasted chicken or a fragrant lamb tagine.
“This is how I grew up eating,” says Tin Vuong, whose menu at Día De Campo features a section titled “Para Todos Mis Amigos,” with a whole fried fish smothered in mole and what’s called simply “Big Ass Carnitas” served on the bone. “I cook it whole, and it is supermoist and flavorful,” says Vuong.
That’s the other appeal of going big: Certain preparations don’t work when scaled down. At Tar & Roses, Andrew Kirschner gives diners (with advance notice) the chance to consume the better part of a goat. “Something like goat, which can be dry, just lends itself better to whole-animal cooking,” says Kirschner, who also offers a standing rib rack and a heap of Singaporean-style chili crab along with bibs. “When everyone is eating the same thing, the meal itself spurs conversation,” he says. “It’s convivial, interactive—exactly why I love to cook.”
WHERE TO GET IT:
1710 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake
DÍa de Campo
1238 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach
Tar & Roses
602 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica